Auguste Rodin (1840-1917)
Property from the Stanford Z. Rothschild, Jr. Collection
Auguste Rodin (1840-1917)

L'un des Bourgeois de Calais: Jean de Fiennes, vêtu, réduction

Auguste Rodin (1840-1917)
L'un des Bourgeois de Calais: Jean de Fiennes, vêtu, réduction
signed 'A. Rodin' (on the top of the base); inscribed with foundry mark '.Alexis RUDIER. Fondeur. PARIS.' (on the back of the base); with raised signature 'A. Rodin' (on the underside)
bronze with dark brown patina
Height: 18 ¼ in. (46.6 cm.)
Conceived between 1887-1895; this bronze version cast in 1927
Musée Rodin, Paris.
Galerie Bollag, Zurich (acquired from the above, April 1930).
Charles Pacquement, Paris; Estate sale, Galerie Georges Petit, Paris, 12 December 1932, lot 72b.
Galerie Eugène Blot, Paris (acquired at the above sale).
Private collection, France; Estate sale, Paris-Drouot, Etude Bivort, Paris, 31 May 1956, lot 6.
Fine Arts Associates (Otto M. Gerson), New York (acquired at the above sale).
Malborough-Gerson Gallery, New York.
Mr. and Mrs. Josef Rosensaft, New York (acquired from the above, 1965); Estate sale, Sotheby Parke Bernet, Inc., New York, 17 March 1976, lot 2.
Acquired at the above sale by the late owner.
A.E. Elsen, Rodin, New York, 1963, pp. 70-85.
B. Champigneulle, Rodin, London, 1967, p. 280, no. 26.
I. Jianou and C. Goldscheider, Rodin, Paris, 1967, pp. 97-99 (plaster version illustrated, pls. 40-41).
R. Descharnes and J.-F. Chabrun, Auguste Rodin, Lausanne, 1967, p. 111 (plaster version illustrated).
J.L. Tancock, The Sculpture of Auguste Rodin, The Collection of the Rodin Museum, Philadephia, Philadelphia, 1976, pp. 376-402 (plaster version illustrated, pp. 377-378).
G. Marotta, ed., Auguste Rodin, New York, 1981, p. 49.
I. Ross and A. Snow, eds., Rodin, A Magnificent Obsession, New York, 2001, pp. 54 and 59 (monumental version illustrated in color).
A.E. Elsen, Rodin's Art, The Rodin Collection of the Iris & B. Gerald Cantor Center for Visual Arts at Stanford University, New York, 2003, p. 72 (another cast illustrated in color, figs. 60 and 61).
A. Le Normand-Romain, The Bronzes of Rodin, Catalogue of Works in the Musée Rodin, Paris, 2007, vol. I, pp. 39, 51, 81, 212-216 and 227 (other versions illustrated).

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Vanessa Fusco
Vanessa Fusco

Lot Essay

This work will be included in the forthcoming Auguste Rodin catalogue critique de l'oeuvre sculpté currently being prepared by the Comité Auguste Rodin at Galerie Brame et Lorenceau under the direction of Jérôme Le Blay under the archive number 2015-4732B.

“I do not know, in any art, of an evocation of souls so splendidly compelling,” Octave Mirbeau declared in 1889, when Rodin first exhibited Les bourgeois de Calais, his earliest commission for a free-standing, public monument and one of the defining projects of his career (quoted in J.L. Tancock, op. cit., 1976, p. 388). Comprised of six individual figures set on integral bases, the group commemorates the heroism of six citizens of Calais who in 1347, during the Hundred Years’ War, volunteered to surrender themselves to King Edward III of England in exchange for the liberation of their city, which had been besieged for nearly a year. In a radical departure from traditional heroic monuments, Rodin eschewed all allegorical trappings, instead depicting the moment that the burghers, clad in sackcloth and nooses as Edward demanded, began their painful leave, their emotions conflicted and their suffering agonizingly real.
“I did not group them together in a triumphant apotheosis, for such a glorification of their heroism would not in any way have corresponded to reality,” Rodin explained. “On the contrary, I strung them out one behind the other, because, with the uncertain outcome of the final inner struggle being waged between their devotion to their city and their fear of dying, it is as if each of them has to face their conscience alone. They are still wondering if they will have the strength to make the supreme sacrifice. Their hearts urge them forward and their feet refuse to walk. They drag themselves along with difficulty, due as much to the weakness to which famine has reduced them as to their dread of their execution. And indeed, if I have succeeded in showing how the body, even when exhausted by the cruelest suffering, still clings to life, how it still holds sway over the soul enamored of bravery, I can only congratulate myself for being equal to the noble theme that I had to treat” (quoted in A. Le Normand-Romain, op. cit., 2007, p. 213).
The maquette for this project was delivered to the mayor of Calais in July 1885 and the finished monument inaugurated in the town square ten years later, after which Rodin continued to make use of the powerfully expressive statues, producing new bronze casts of individual figures and heads for eager collectors. The present lot features Jean de Fiennes, one of the six burghers, who was the captain of the town of Calais. Jean was responsible for opening the gates of the town, first approaching King Edward III with a rope around his neck, thus inspiring the five others to follow his lead. “The monument swiftly moved beyond the context of local history to take its place alongside the great works of sculpture,” Le Normand-Romain has written. “By rejecting the descriptive style of conventional public monuments in order to portray what real people felt...Rodin had created one of the masterpieces of a period that focused on man and his inner world” (ibid., p. 214).

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